Welcome to Spring 2014
Clemson Men's Lacrosse!
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CLEMSON HEADS INTO SPRING BREAK ON A ROLL - Mar 25, 2014
CLEMSON HEADS INTO SPRING BREAK ON A ROLL
Tuesday is an unusual night to play a game, but it worked out well for the Tigers as they coasted to a 23-1 win over St Ambrose (Davenport, IA). St Ambrose spent their spring break in the Carolinas, playing Coastal Carolina on Sunday, Clemson on Tuesday, and Wofford on Wednesday. The timing of the game actually served us well, as the last week of classes heading into spring break can be a challenge in terms of keeping players focused and on task with nothing but a break in front of them.
We knew little about St Ambrose other than that they were a NAIA varsity (akin to SCAD) competing in Division II in the GRLC (Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference). Their stats were pretty thin on mcla.us and we hadn’t played any common opponents, so not much to relate to heading in. They’d lost to Coastal 7-4 but again, it’s been a few years since Clemson played Coastal so not much help there. We did know they had a pretty small roster and we hoped that would provide an advantage for the Tigers via our depth.
It didn’t take long for Clemson to assert itself and take control of the game. The Tigers ran up 7 goals in the 1st quarter and repeated the production in the 2nd quarter, shutting out the Fighting Bees for the half to head into the break, up 14-0. Once we saw how the teams matched up, we subbed throughout the squad, throughout the game, with every Tiger seeing the field.
The 3rd quarter saw the Tigers post another 6 goals to lead 20-0 heading into the 4th. The offense slowed a bit in the final stanza posting 3 goals. Sadly, the Tigers lost the shut-out with 20 seconds left in the contest on a nice bounce shot from a St Ambrose long pole.
For me, the outstanding part of the game was not the final score but the fact that 18 different Tigers scored goals, evidence that we ran everyone throughout the game. I’m sure that’s a Clemson record for number of players scoring in any one game. No Tiger scored more than 2 in what was a true team effort.
The effort was no less impressive on the defensive end as the D shut out the Bees for 59 minutes and 40 seconds. Demetrius Murray finished with 8 saves as the defense consistently denied St Ambrose quality scoring opportunities. It was nice to see the starters get matched by the rest of the defense in the quality and consistency of their work.
We used our first time out with 3 minutes left to put all the seniors on the field at the same time, as this was our last home game of the season. It was only fitting to give these guys time to enjoy playing with one another on a Tiger field in light of all the effort and sacrifice they have given this program.
St Ambrose deserves a lot of credit. We were impressed with their demeanor throughout the game. When you get handled like this, it’s all too easy to fall into playing chippy or cheap, but the Bees stayed on the high road and kept it clean verbally and in their play. I emailed their coach the next day to express this and he returned the favor saying how his guys were impressed with how respectful our players were… always a nice thing to hear.
It was a nice way to cap off the first half of the season. Coming back, we know the ante’s quite a bit higher with Va Tech and UConn waiting for us in Maryland. Then we are back for a dose of our regional schedule vs. NC State, East Carolina, and of course, the Gamecocks in Columbia. (NOTE: that game has been changed to Saturday the 19th instead of Friday the 18th due to field conflicts at USC).
Clemson 7 7 6 3 23
St Ambrose 0 0 0 1 1
Individual Scoring (this is gonna be a long list!)
Doyle 2 (2g), Higgins 2 (2g), Yingling 2 (2g), Brennan 2 (1g, 1a), Murphy 2 (1g,1a), Seale 2 (1g,1a), Smit 2 (1g,1a), Seward 2 (2a), Carek 2 (1g,1a), Dudash 1 (1g), Johnson 1 (1g), Knight 1 (1a), McKeithan 1 (1g), Stewart 1 (1g), Vondenbrink 1 (1a), Caillouet 1 (1g), Dybus 1 (1g), Godard 1 (1g), Maher, K 1 (1g), Mebane 1 (1g), DiPiete 1 (1g), Stinchcomb 1 (1a)
NOTE: I may be missing a goal and would be happy to fix the scoring if I’ve missed someone. Somehow one of our scorekeepers (injured players) managed to score a goal in the scorebook despite not setting foot on the field. Good try, that.
Saves: Murray, 8 saves/ 1 goal allowed (.889% save percentage)
Face Offs: Mebane 13/16 (.812%), Smit 7/9 (.777%)
We look forward to seeing everyone in Maryland this coming weekend. Hopefully winter will have given up its stubborn hold on the Mid Atlantic by the time we deplane at BWI. Thanks to everyone who’s been busy getting all the ducks in a row to make this trip possible.
Clemson vs Georgia - Mar 20, 2014
Georgia 8, Clemson 5
The weekend finale featured the Georgia Bulldogs coming to Clemson. Our rivalry with Georgia has become pretty intense over the last few years. Last year the Tigers went to Athens and ended Georgia’s undefeated season, only to see the Bulldogs take a 4 OT decision in the conference play-offs and proceed to win the SELC and advance to the MCLAs.
Sunday was a picture perfect day for lacrosse and we found it ironic that Georgia had no issue with the field. The first half was tight with both teams scoring twice in the 1st quarter for a 2-2 tie. UGA would notch one in the 2nd while holding the Tigers off the board to go into half-time up 3-2. Georgia would tally 3 in the 3rd versus a single Tiger goal to take a 6-3 lead into the final stanza. The teams again matched goals in the 4th to see the Bulldogs take an 8-5 win.
Our team defense played very well as UGA dominated possession most of the game but had a hard time coming up with 6 on 6 goals. Of particular note was the play of our short stick D mids who usually don’t get much attention but this day they deserved it. Led by All Conference middie Mike Maher, John Callouett, Matt Paolillo, and Ken Maher (yes, they are related) they excelled all day as the majority of UGA’s offense came from up top.
The Tigers biggest problems came after the defense gained possession. We struggled all day against UGA’s press ride, turning the ball over too many times between the restraining lines and giving the UGA O too many repeat chances. Demetrius Murray was stout in goal, logging 15 saves while allowing 8 goals. Offensively, JP Brennan carried the load for Clemson factoring in every Tiger score, by scoring 3 goals and adding 2 more assists to his team leading total. Matt Johnson and middie Chris Mauro added goals for the Tigers. Our offense was inconsistent all game and the Bulldog’s dominance in time of possession was decisive in this game.
This was a spirited game as befits what this rivalry has become. In a time when physical lacrosse has become something of a rarity, this one features quite a few body checks and physical play. It ended with a hard hit by UGA on a clearing Clemson defenseman at the whistle. A flag was thrown on the play but time had expired so it was largely a symbolic gesture. It did lead to some heated words as the teams separated and went back to their huddles. It must be remembered that we stress sportsmanship in this program and while the hit was unnecessary, it was not blatantly after the whistle. We expect all members of the Clemson lacrosse family to honor and abide the fullest measure of sportsmanship. There’s no doubt the finale of this game will factor into our next match up with UGA.
Clemson 2 0 1 2 5
Georgia 2 1 3 2 8
Individual Scoring; Brennan 5(3g, 2a), Johnson 1 (1g), Mauro 1 (1g)
Face-Offs: Mebane 10/18 (55.6%)
Saves: Murray 15 saves / 8 goals allowed (.652%)
Clemson vs Auburn - Mar 20, 2014
Clemson 13, Auburn 6
The Tigers opened up Family Weekend hosting the other Tigers on the upper intramural field. Clemson honored their family members with a 13-6 win. The first quarter was back and forth, knotted at 2 all before the Tigers added 2 goals to push out to a 4-2. The scoring was duplicated in the 2nd quarter to send the game into half time with Clemson up 8-4. Two quick goals after halftime boosted the Tigers to a 10-4 lead and the teams basically traded goals over the balance of the period. In the 4th the Tigers added 2 more while shutting out Auburn en-route to a 13-6 decision for the home team.
I apologize for not being able to describe the goals as they happened but the stats for this game don’t provide that information. It is safe to say this was Ian Seale’s night as he led the Tigers with 5 goals and an assist. JP Brennan continued to be the set up man for Clemson. He logged 4 assists to go with a solo marker to finish with 5 points, followed by attack mate Matt Johnson with a hat trick. Midfielder Justin Higgins scored twice and added an assist while fellow middie Pete Mebane scored once and helped out twice, as well as going 17 of 23 at the face-off X (.739%). Kyle Stinchcomb and defenseman Andre Monitto each added an assist. On the defensive end, Demetrius Murray logged 13 saves while allowing a half-dozen goals (.684%).
Clemson 4 4 3 2 13
Auburn 2 2 2 0 6
Individual Scoring: Seale 6 (5g,1a), Brennan 5(1g,4a), Johnson 3 (3g), Higgins 3 (2g,1a), Mebane (2g,1a), Monitto 1 (1a), Stinchcomb 1 (1a)
Face-Offs: Mebane (17/23 (.739%)
Saves: Murray (13 saves / 6 goals allowed (.684%)
Clemson vs Northeastern - Mar 20, 2014
Northeastern 11, Clemson 5
Next up for the Tigers was a “home” game in Georgia against Northeastern University out of Boston. The game was played at the Mill Creek Lacrosse field at Duncan Creek Park. The folks with Mill Creek graciously provided their field to enable the game to be played. It’s a beautiful facility and is about 90 minutes from campus.
The Tigers and Northeastern started off matching goals to a 2-2 tie midway into the first. The Tigers first goal was an unassisted effort by Matt Johnson followed by a goal from senior middie Steve Dybus. Northeastern would go on to add 2 goals before the end of the first, for a 4-2 lead. Dybus’s 2nd goal off a Johnson feed was countered by 3 goals from Northeastern as the Huskies went into half time up 7—3.
Thankfully, Dybus continued his hot hand as he tallied the lone Tiger goal in the 3rd off an assist from Ian Seale. However, 2 goals by the guys from Boston extended their lead to 9-4. The Tigers made a run early in the 4th scoring 2 consecutive goals. The first, unassisted by Dybus, once again followed by a score from fellow senior middie Connor Haille to get the Tigers within 3 at 9-6. Northeastern then scored twice more as time dwindled, to hand the Tigers an 11-6 defeat.
Demetrius Murray turned into yet another strong effort tallying 16 saves while allowing 11 goals. Face off middie Peter Mebane battled Northeastern’s face off middie, reputed to be one of the best in the country, pretty evenly winning 9 and losing 11.
Clemson 2 1 1 2 6
Northeastern 4 3 2 2 11
Individual Scoring: Dybus (4g), Johnson (1g,1a), Haille (1g), Seale (1a)
Face-offs : Mebane (9 / 20 (45%)
Saves: Murray: 16 saves / 11 goals allowed (.595%)
Scrimmage - Mar 20, 2014
Tennessee Wesleyan 11, Clemson 4
After a short break, the younger Tigers scrimmaged Tennessee Wesleyan, a DII SELC program from Athens, TN about 45 minutes from Knoxville. Wesleyan got out to a 3-1 1st quarter lead and enjoyed a 5 goal 3rd quarter en-route to a 11-4 win. The Tigers had a tough time capitalizing on their opportunities and Wesleyan’s offense provided consistent good looks at the Tiger cage. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter that the Clemson offense found the range with 3 goals after a solo tally in the 1st. Clemson was led by Lex Smit with 2 goals (1 off an assist from Nick Murphy) and solo tallies by Justin Higgins and freshman Nate Goddard.
Clemson vs Tennessee - Mar 20, 2014
Clemson 12, Tennessee 9
Two weeks after defeating Wake Forest in the opener, the Tigers got on the Jean’s bus to head west over the mountains to face the Volunteers in Knoxville. It was good to see Porter Huskey once more at the helm of the bus. Porter’s become a fixture for the team and a part of the family.
At several points the trip itself was in jeopardy due to unusual winter weather in the Carolinas. We got 5” of snow on Tuesday/Wednesday, the University was closed down and we weren’t sure how quickly things would melt; especially on the highway through the Appalachians. Fortunately, more seasonal weather came in and cleared things out. But even then, things were kind of unsettled as the University of Tennessee has a policy of not allowing club or intramural competition when temperatures are below freezing. That morning in Knoxville we encountered flurries and temps in the high 20’s. Thankfully the temperatures got close enough to 32 to let us get the game in on UT’s new turf field.
The Tigers were unfazed by the conditions as Clemson got off to a fast start and ran out to a 9-2 half time lead over the Volunteers. We did a lot of damage in the first quarter, tallying 7 goals. Ian Seale got the festivities started off with a feed from senior Connor Haille and then returned the favor, hitting senior Kyle Stinchcomb with an assist. Matt Johnson got into the act with a goal on an assist from junior JP Brennan. Johnson’s goal was followed by an unassisted coast to coast goal by sophomore LSM Jason Moustafa, the first of his Clemson career.
Seale added another unassisted marker before Brennan put home a feed from Stinchcomb. The Brennan to Johnson combo finished off the Tiger onslaught to carry the Tigers into the 2nd up 7-2. As is not unusual in lacrosse, the team cooled down in the 2nd offensively relying on 2 unassisted Seale goals to put 9 in the net in the first half. Fortunately the defense didn’t chill out as they blanked the Volunteers in the 2nd for the 9-2 lead.
We began to work deeper into the bench as the 2nd half opened. The scoring slowed as a Matt Johnson goal off an assist by Peter Mebane was the only Tiger tally of the period. UT notched a pair to close the gap to 10-4. Tennessee started to get some momentum in the 4th and as often happens, when one team gains momentum the other side tends to lose it. Momentum rarely serves two masters. Tennessee rattled off 5 goals in the 4th versus a solo Clemson score, via the Brennan to Johnson combination (3rd time in the game). With the score at 11-9 way late in the 4th, the Volunteer momentum was permanently stalled when Johnson split a double team and found Ryan Doyle on the back side of the goal. Doyle took the feed and rolled away from the defense to score the lock-down goal in a 12-9 Tiger win.
Besides the offensive exploits, we have to give props to face-off middie Peter Mebane who won 15 of 25 draws as well as posting an assist. The first defensive group of Harry Luttrell, Bill Roystan, Billy Hadley, and Andre Monetto dominated the Vol offense, aided and abetted by a 10 save/ 4 goals allowed performance by senior Demetrius Murray in goal.
Clemson 7 2 1 2 12
Tennessee 2 0 2 5 9
Individual Scoring: Seale (4g, 1a), Johnson (3g,1a), Brennan (1g,3a), Stinchcomb (1g,1a), Doyle (1g), Moustafa (1g), Haille (1a), Mebane (1a)
Face offs: Mebane 15 / 25 (60%)
Saves: Murray: 10 saves/ 4 goals allowed (.714 save percentage); Upton: 2 saves/ 5 goals allowed (.286 save percentage)
Getting Off On the Right Foot - Feb 16, 2014
GETTING OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT
Opening games are always an adventure. There’s a lot you don’t know about your own team and you sure don’t know anything about the opposition. When that opposition is a regional team and the game is a qualifying game for the 2014 postseason, it adds something extra to taking the field for the first time.
You have some sense of where the team is, but inevitably there are new players that look to be in the mix and there are voids left by players from the past team. A lot of questions get answered in the opening game every year and even more new questions are asked.
It’s been a cold preseason in Clemson with the majority of practices being run with temps in the 30s. In those conditions, it can be tough to teach and seems a lot more productive to keep the players moving. This did lead to some spirited scrimmaging and drills and that’s always good to see.
Wake Forest is a fellow member of the Northeast Region of the SELC, which made this pretty much of a must-win game. The loser would be in the hole for the rest of the season, as we play a total of 4 qualifying games (South Carolina, East Carolina, NC State, and Wake) determining who advances to the postseason.
Mother Nature cut us a break for our first game as we had temps in the mid 50’s… 20+ degrees above the last time we took the field. One of the first faces I saw was Wake’s assistant coach, former Clemson All Conference goalie, Brett Becker, who’s completing law school this spring in Winston-Salem. It was good to see him back on campus even in unfamiliar colors.
The Tigers got off to a quick start putting in 2 goals in short order to go up 2-0. Senior Connor Haile (Warrenton, Va.) tallied the first goal of the 2014 season about 4 minutes into the game. It was followed by a goal from Ithaca transfer, midfielder, Justin Higgins (Bridgewater, NJ) It was his first goal as a Tiger, and Higgins wasn’t done as you’ll see in a bit.
Wake bounced back to tie the score at 2 which dampened our confidence a bit before the Tigers offense got rolling to post 8 unanswered goals. Sophomore transfer, Ian Seale (The Woodlands, TX) got the run started with an unassisted goal with 5 ½ minutes left. Less than a minute later he assisted senior Matt Johnson (Chantilly, VA) to close out the first quarter with the Tigers up 4-2. Seale is from the same school that produced All Conference Midfielder Ryan Conlon. Seale played as a freshman at DI Fairfield University before transferring to Clemson in September.
Less than 2 minutes into the 2nd period Seale struck again on a feed from senior defenseman and Co-captain Harry Luttrell (Greer, SC). Seale followed that goal 8 seconds later, finishing a textbook fast break, off the face-off win by sophomore Peter McBane (Westfield, NJ). Veteran attackman JP Brennan (Kensington, MD) posted his first point of the 2014 on the helper to Seale.
Almost exactly 1 minute later junior Nick Rossi (Sparks, MD) deposited another assist from Brennan in the Deacon net, to put the Tigers up 7-2 less than 3 minutes into the 2nd period. Higgins would score the next two goals of the quarter, both unassisted and the second while the Tigers were a man-down. Junior Steve Smith (Baltimore, MD) added an unassisted marker to close out the first half with the Tigers up 10-2.
It was good to see this team show it knew how to get on a streak and take advantage of it. Naturally, the offense tends to get all the attention when a team runs up a bunch of goals to break the game open. The Tiger defense deserves equal props for dominating Wake throughout the half, particularly since the Deacons had success at the face-off X, winning 9 of 14 face-offs. This translates to possessions and the Clemson defense was outstanding in not allowing the Deacs to capitalize on these opportunities.
Senior co-captain goalie Demetrius Murray (Wilmington, DE), had a strong half posting 5 saves and was effectively fronted by Luttrell, fellow senior Matt Hogue (Greenville, SC) and junior Bill Roystan (Baltimore, MD). Sophomore Ithaca transfer, Billy Hadley (Summit, NJ) made his first start as a Tiger a success. Equally effective were our LSMs and short stick D mids. LSM Andrew Carek (Mt Pleasant, SC) led the team with 5 ground balls and sophomores Jason Moustafa (Somers, CT) and Andre Monitto (Spartanburg, SC) were equally effective. SSDMs senior Mike Maher (Baltimore,MD) and John Caillouet (Eldersburg, MD) did a nice job on man to man defense and in getting the ball up to our offensive end.
The middies deserve some notice as well. They were instrumental in setting the tone as well as contributing on the scoreboard. We ran 3 units from the start and as the 2nd quarter unfolded we expanded the rotation to include a 4th unit.
As we opened the 3rd quarter we added the 5th middies to the rotation on a regular basis while running our top two units on a more occasional basis. Ian Seale put the Tigers up 11-2 on an unassisted goal. Matt Johnson then scored his second of the day off an assist from middie Pete Mebane widening the margin, Clemson ahead 12-2. Wake scored with a bit more than 1 minute left in the quarter to bring the stance to a close at 12-3. The only down note of the quarter was when middie Steve Smith and defenseman Matt Hogue collided head to head with both going down and ultimately diagnosed with concussions. A further bit of irony is that these guys are roommates as well. There were probably some interesting conversations that night in the house.
Junior Zach Upton (Redding, CT) took over for Demetrius Murray in goal with Murray departing with 8 saves and allowing 3 goals over 3 quarters. As the quarter unfolded a lot of new faces were on the field for the Tigers as they held their own at both ends of the field. Sophomore Mike Stormo (Roxbury, NJ) scored the lone Tiger tally while Wake struck for 2 goals to wrap it up 13-5 Tigers.
SCORE BY QUARTER
CLEMSON 4 6 2 1 13
WAKE FOREST 2 0 1 2 5
Individual Scoring: Seale 5 (4g,1a), Higgins 3 (3), Brennan 2 (2), Johnson 2 (2g), Luttrell 1 (1g), Mebane 1 (1a), Rossi 1 (1g), Smith 1 (1)
Goalies: Murray .727% (8 saves, 3 goals against), Upton .571% (4 saves, 3 goals against)
Face Offs: Clemson 10/22 (.454 %)
Overall it was a very good start to the season. It’s confidence building to decisively pull away from the opposing team. Coach French and I were happy to see the defense communicate well showing an awareness of slides and backups. Wake had few quality opportunities; at best 2 goals came in settled situations, balances were in unsettled and/or man up. What was more significant to me, was our ability to limit Wake’s possessions and get the ball on the ground and then up the field consistently.
Offensively, we executed our sets pretty well, working through three different sets over the course of the game. We created a lot of opportunities, more than we were able to capitalize on, but first game out we’ll take it. Wake played a packed-in defense along with a penchant to slide early. Our motion worked well against that style of defense, though we need to spin the ball faster through X or across the top to exploit the backside. We were a little too leisurely about it and eventually it dawned on us that to some degree Wake was baiting us… gives us something to work on.
Our midfield play was especially promising. We’re blessed with quality and depth at the midfield this season throughout all 4 classes. We’ve got a solid group of seniors from which we can expect poise and leadership as well as the luxury of a core group of juniors and sophomores to back them up. Then we’ve got some promising freshmen who will have an impact given the opportunity. All our mids got some time vs. Wake and the nice thing was that top to bottom, we were constantly generating opportunities. Now we have to get batter in capitalizing.
The strength of our midfields will dictate that more offense will initiate from up top. This is no hesitation about our attack, it just speaks to a better balance in front and behind the goal. I think we’ve got a lot of guys who can “stick it” and that should work to our advantage if we run into some tough “man to man” match-ups. After all there are only 4 long poles in the field and it looks like we’ve got some guys who can capitalize vs. short stick defenders.
One area that caught us by surprise was that Wake won the face off battle, taking 12 of 22. We got off to a slow start, losing 9 in the first half. We know what Charlie Pontiakos (Charlotte, NC) is capable of and newcomer Peter Mebane is an excellent counterpart and change-up. Once these guys get rolling we should be in good shape at the whistle. In the long run, this might have been a good wake-up call heading into the rest of the season.
I was pleased with the dominance shown in the 1st half, but also pleased that we played with Wake throughout the 2nd half, tying them 3-3 in the half while everyone got playing time. We worked a pretty rapid rotation throughout the half to get guys multiple chances. This didn’t help the teams continuity, but the more experience we have throughout the roster the better team we will be.
Next up is Tennessee over in Knoxville. We expect a tougher go with this one as it is UT’s opener and at home, meaning they’ve have a good 3 or 4 weeks of practice to prepare. Our off weekend this weekend shaped up to give us a good practice opportunity with 2 weeks of work but looks like we’re getting tossed a curve ball. We lost one night last week to rain and as I write this, the forecast is for a winter storm to move into the area on Tuesday and Wednesday, calling for multiple inches of snow. We better have a productive and busy practice on Monday as we may not see the field again until we’re in Tennessee.
Immediately following the UT game we will scrimmage Tennessee Wesleyan a MCLA DII program. We will count on our bench to make us successful through a pair of back to back games.
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